Traditionally David is considered the author of Psalm 28. Verses 1 and 2 speak to every faithful person who has turned to God in despair or with an anxious heart. Sometimes the source of that feeling comes from a specific event. The news of a loved one dying, watching a home burn from a fire, or unexpected financial hardship can lead to such a cry as described in verses 1 and 2. In fact the list can be endless. A deep love for God and obedience to His will has never guaranteed a trouble-free life in this world.
But the words in Psalms 28 seem to refer to a spiritual struggle. In verse 3, David wrote, “ Do not drag me away with the wicked and with those who work iniquity, who speak peace with their neighbors, while evil is in their hearts.” Was it some temptation? Was it a hardened heart from betrayal? Was it the danger of anger turning into hatred? There is no way to know the source of David’s turmoil. But whatever it was, David recognized the seriousness of his situation.
Paul’s words in Romans describe a spiritual battle that every Christian faces every day. The worldly nature is drawn to a life that is ruined by sin. As much as the world tries to paint a different picture, a life rooted in the world is dark and ultimately leads to despair. No alcoholic starts out planning to be an alcoholic. No drug addict plans to live a life of addiction. Few expect to spend years in prison for breaking the law. But these things do happen when people either ignore or deliberately reject the Lord and His Will.
For a Christian, there is a spiritual nature that recognizes the importance of following God’s Will. There is the commitment to live a changed life that is guided by the inspired word of God. There is the resolution to put down that first “worldly nature” and embrace the true gift of God in this life and the promise when this life ends. But the worldly nature struggles against the spiritual.
Sometimes, as the conflict goes back and forth and intensifies, resolve erodes and fears grow larger. Then that person may begin to feel like he/she is drifting; it is then that David’s words may become too appropriate.
Faith and trust in God are easy when a Christian is filled with the sunlight and joys of life and God; but the true test comes in the dark valleys of despair and fear. Too many Christians only expect the sunshine and mountaintops. When the tragedies and trials come, that “fair-weather faith” doesn’t seem to be enough. Yet, true growth and strength only come as a Christian’s soul cries out to God for help and peace.
In verses 4 and 5 David wrote, “Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices; requite them according to the deeds of their hands; repay them their recompense. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD Nor the deeds of His hands, He will tear them down and not build them up.” The New King James reads, “Give them according to their deeds.” Paul put it a different way: You reap what you sow.
Some people claim that there is a balance between good and evil in this world. But even a brief examination of events that occur every day show that there is a “wrongness” in this world. Good people suffer. Evil people seem to thrive. Doors are locked with one, two, or even three locks. Careful parents must warn their children about “strangers”. Sin is in this world. But there will be a day of justice and a balancing of the scales. God’s promises are true.
David may have felt despair, but his mind and soul soon turned from his feelings to what he knew was real. In verses 6-8 he wrote, “ Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him. The LORD is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed.”
In verse 8, David recognized another truth concerning God and His people, “the Lord is their strength…” Notice that David did not say that the Lord is the strength “for” or “with” His people. No, the strength of God’s people is the Lord. A Christian cannot live or grow alone. A Christian cannot be self-sufficient and completely strong within himself. Instead, a Christian’s strength comes directly from the Lord. The more a Christian allows the Lord to work in his, or her, life, the more that Christian will be able to serve the Lord.
If that is true, then what is the Christian’s job? “My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped”. Trust is one of the crucial elements of any relationship – especially with the Lord. God has promised each Christian help now and eternal life in the future. Each Christian has accepted and entered into God’s new covenant. In this life, the blessings of that relationship leads to a life that is loving, joyful and full of…..trust.
The last verse is a treasure in itself. In verse 9 David wrote, “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” For any Christian, the title “shepherd” has a special meaning, and that significance points to the symmetry in God’s Word.
When a writer writes several novels in a series, one of the big problems is insuring that everything fits together. In spite of the best efforts of the writer and editor, mistakes do crop up. The car in the novel was blue, but in the second, the same car is suddenly red. A character in the second novel appears, but in the next novels he/she disappears for no apparent reason.
Yet the Bible is a collection of books and letters that literally cover hundreds of years. Yet, in spite of continual attacks on the accuracy of the Bible, it has stood firm. Time after time, archeology has proven the accuracy of the Biblical account. History books from the 19th and early 20th century refer to the Hittites as a legendary, or fictitious, people. Yet, the capital of the Hittite Empire was found and excavated.
When one author has trouble keeping facts straight in books written over a handful of years, then how can the symmetry and accuracy of the Bible be possible? The answer, or course, is that there IS one author – the Living God.
God’s clear answer to David’s petition would not be fully realized until the coming of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. As the perfect sacrifice, and as High Priest and King, Jesus Christ can, and will, save His people. The gate may be narrow and the path difficult, but like a shepherd, He will guide his people to everlasting life. Thank you Lord for your indescribable gift – Jesus Christ!